Damascus is the Syrian regime’s center of gravity -- the struggle for Damascus is existential for the regime as well as the opposition.
Damascus has always been heavily militarized and has hosted a high proportion of the Syrian armed forces throughout the war.
In response to rebel incursions to the capital, the regime escalated operations in late 2012 and consolidated forces from other parts of the country.
Rebels in Damascus worked to improve their organizational structure, and implemented a shift towards targeted attacks on infrastructure and strategic assets.
The regime has augmented its fighting forces with foreign fighters, namely Hezbollah and Iraqi Shi‘a militias, and with pro-regime militias.
This reliance on foreign and irregular forces leaves its military capacity vulnerable to events beyond its control.
The regime has used indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas, including “barrel bombs,” to mimic the effects of chemical weapons.
Renewed rebel campaigns in Damascus suggest that they will survive the winter months, and continue to challenge Assad’s grip on the fortress of Damascus.
The regime is running out of options for a decisive victory, but does not seem at risk of losing their capital seat at the present.